I Want Your Job – Episode 5, The NFL Draft Starts in Mobile

The “I Want Your Job (IWYJ)” podcast continues with Reese’s Senior Bowl Executive Director Jim Nagy, who talks about his background in recruiting, his transition to leading the Senior Bowl, and the value that the Senior Bowl gives prospective NFL athletes as they begin the Draft process.

Connect with Jim Nagy:
Twitter: @JimNagy_SB

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Highlights from the interview:

1:10 – Nagy paints the picture of the Reese’s Senior Bowl (RSB), its development, and how he is taking the RSB to the next level.

3:28 – “It’s a huge stepping stone for a lot of great NFL players.”

4:45 – Nagy explains the relaxed environment of the Senior Bowl compared to the NFL Combine, which allows players to be more comfortable and present during that week of training and competition.

5:11- “ To me, that’s when you can impress the teams the most, is when they see who you really are.”

7:40 – Nagy shares how he started his scouting career as a PR intern at the Green Bay Packers, fostering relationships and eventually being called up as an area scout with the Washington Redskins

11:26 – Nagy shares how at the end of his scouting role he logged in to his Marriott rewards, out of curiosity, to find that in 18 years of scouting he had spent 9 years worth of nights just in Marriott hotels.

15:20 – “The fun part of the job is seeing greatness.” – Nagy, on scouting as a profession

18:04 – The draft becomes big business! 47.5 million people watched the draft last year, and Nashville hosted over 600,000 people. There’s a market for it!

18:17 – “That’s all we’re trying to do, is connect with the fans, and kind of pull the curtain back a little bit and show them who we’re looking at.” – Nagy, on the role of the purpose behind the Senior Bowl

20:50 – Social media allows Nagy to push the envelope and be creative, drawing attraction and interaction from players and followers

23:45 – Reese’s Senior Bowl social media reach for last year (2018-2019) was 3.7 million people on Instagram, and 1.5 million people on Twitter

26:43 – Nagy talks about his goal to make the Senior Bowl more prestigious and selective, instead of putting out a watch list of 1,000 players

28:42 – Nagy elaborates on the rewarding process of selecting players, watching them play in the Senior Bowl, head to the NFL Combine, and then see those players get drafted

33:05 – “You never know who you’ll come across who could some day help you. We all need help. Just treating people fairly and showing them that you care: life’s all about relationships.”

34:41 – Why it’s valuable for college football players to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. It’s a platform for players, and lets them make a statement just by coming to Mobile.

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Full Podcast Transcript

Jim Cavale: So, Jim, I mean, first and foremost, I know we’re getting you at a crazy time of the year being the executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl. What’s life like right now with college football just kicking off last week?

Jim Nagy: Oh, life is good. You know, as the football season started, it’s what we’ve been waiting for all summer, right? But, no, it’s a crazy time, 16 games, our scouts were at week one. So just, you know, kind of hitting it hard right off the bat. And then, you know, with the Senior Bowl, the business aspect of it and now we got a lot of sponsorships we’re chasing and really trying to capitalize on the great year that we had on the field last year, trying to just grow this event out. So that takes up a lot of time. But, you know, being busy is a good thing.

Now for people who might not know the entire landscape of the Reese’s Senior Bowl, can you just paint the basic picture of how players actually get invited, the fruit that is bear from their time in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and just the basics of the game for those who might not know all the details.

Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, the Reese’s Senior Bowl, we’re going on our 71st year so it’s a great heritage, great history, 53 Hall of Fame player, a third of the league right now came through Mobile. We have over 500 players in the league. So there’s a rich, rich history and it’s been in Mobile, Alabama the entire time, outside of the first year is in Jacksonville, but it’s been here 70 years.

You know, and so what we do, you know, our process shifted a little bit last year. It was my first year working with the game. With my background being in the NFL, I really tried to run this thing as closely to an NFL personnel department as we could. So I hired a bunch of former NFL scouts and what we do is, you know, we just… we hit the road just like an NFL team would.

We’re not at schools every day like what like teams are because we don’t have an NFL budget but we’re at tons of games on the weekends and watching tape all week. And because we have former NFL scouts, we all have contacts whether they be in the NFL or at the colleges or even with the agent on the agent side and we just scout the country and we try to bring the best players down here that we can.

It’s really the first stage of the draft process. You have the Senior Bowl. You have the Combine and then the draft itself. So, you know, last year was a big year for us. We had 10 first-round picks, and you know, they just cut down the rosters, 53-men rosters in the NFL this week, and we had 93 players drafted and 91 of them made NFL teams.

So this is a big event, guys can really help themselves down here. You know, we had a lot of guys go from, you know, a third- and fourth-round picks to being first-round picks or sixth-round picks to be in third-round picks and, you know, our game is really as much for the under the radar, small school players, it’s really for a lot of the guys, if they buy into the competitive nature of it, the guys in the first and second round, it’s a huge opportunity for them.

Because if you’re the 25th pick, you know, you’re kind of projected in the 20s going into the draft process, and then you come down here and have a great week. And you get yourself into the team, every one of those draft block is worth millions of dollars is that part of the draft. So, yeah, it’s a huge… it’s a huge stepping stone for a lot of a lot of great NFL players.

Yeah, and so for a college football player, you know, whether it’s a coach listening or an athletic director listening, or even somebody working on the college athletic staff, like, your players getting invited to this game is a big deal because it really kicks off the whole draft process. And the evaluation process gets a little extended from them spending time in Mobile in a much more accessible place, probably than the combine.

Yeah, no, there’s, there’s no doubt, Jim. That’s a good point. You know, I think and I’ve stressed this with agents, since I’ve taken the job, that if you’ve got the guy who’s the clear cut number one player at his position and he absolutely, and that’s, you know, that’s across the league and you have good contacts around the NFL and he’s clearly a number one guy at his position and he doesn’t have any room to move up, well, I can understand that if you would, if you would decline an invite to the Senior Bowl and just try to stay healthy.

But if you’re not, if it’s a, you know, if it’s kind of a cloudy position, and you’ve got an opportunity, even move up one spot, there is so much money to be made down here. And, yeah, it’s, it’s a great platform.

And like you said, it’s a little more relaxed environment than the Combine. You know, that’s really, that’s a really intense week. There’s a little more downtime here. We’re stretched out over seven days as opposed to the four days of the combine. So just, I think the players are more comfortable coming down here and really, you know, presenting who they really are to these teams rather than being under the microscope with the combine, I think there’s a little more time to relax and be yourself.

And again, that’s to me, that’s when you can impress the teams the most is when they see who you really are. So that’s… there’s a huge benefit of being down here. And that was the great thing last year, my first year with the game is, is just the buy-in factor from the players and the agents. You know, the agents have a big say in this as well. They can be very persuasive with their with their new clients.

And just the competitive nature, a lot of these guys, a lot of them, we had 10 first-round pick. There’s probably four or five of those guys would have been first round picks if they come here or not. And some of those… some of those guys played their way in but, I mean, you were there last year for the orientation meeting, the orientation meeting that that you spoke at as well, Jim, and I told those guys just the buy-in factor and the fact that them coming down here, they made a statement about their competitive nature and that they weren’t afraid to compete with the best of the best. And I think that that shows through with teams and the teams value that. You know, they make a statement just by coming down.

Yeah, I mean, you see some guys go to the combine and not do every event there, right? The vulnerability and going to the Senior Bowl and participating in a whole week of practice. And a game under a microscope says a lot.

Yeah, I think it speaks volumes. And I think that, you know, I was a part of teams in the league that made a lot of mistakes on putting too much value and too much stock in the combine, you know, and what guys are doing running around in shorts and T-shirts rather than, you know, fully fatted up and playing real football.

And so, I do think that the shift right now is going back, you know, to put more weight on the Senior Bowl in real football because this is what they’re, you know, you’re evaluating what they’re going to be paid to do, not run around and do drills. So… and I think the players understand that, you know. I think that, you know, again, there’s been… there’s been so many mistakes made, is, you know, throughout the process where if you come down here and compete and have a few good days of practice and put in a good game, you can really vault yourself.

All right, so let’s talk about your story. You spent almost two decades going school to school scouting. I mean, you worked for some very prominent successful NFL organizations as a scout and, you know, I want to talk about, first of all, how did you get into scouting. When did you know you wanted to get into working in football, professional football? And just take us through that journey.

Yeah, that’s a… that’s a really long-winded answer. I’ll try not… I’ll try to try to be brief but, no, Jim, I, I grew up, my dad was a high school coach when I was real little. And I guess I got, you know, just got bit by the football bug, you know, as really a young guy.

I remember wanting to be an NFL scout from the time I was six or seven years old, and again, you know, and then just growing up and playing the game and, you know, just wanting to be around it. And I kind of had a singular focus the whole time I was growing up, that was really, the one advantage I have over a lot of people was that I just knew from a young age what I wanted to do. The hard part was back then in the, you know, the late ‘80s, early ‘90s there was no internet, you know, there was no Google. You just couldn’t, you know, I was living in a small town in Northern Michigan, you know what you want to do with your life, but you have no idea how to get there.

So, you know, I, I went to University of Michigan, you know, volunteered in the athletic department with the football team, and, you know, then just send out resumes and cover letters and thank God I got, I got one… I got one call back from the Green Bay Packers and it was for a PR internship. And back then, and this was in 1996, there weren’t… there weren’t scouting internships in the NFL. There was no entry-level position like that. So you really had to get your foot in the door through the public relations wing. And then when I got there, I was really, really lucky that that staff… we won the Super Bowl that year ‘96 with Brett Favre and Reggie White and those guys, and that personnel staff had five future GMs on it.

So, you know, every time I, every day I’d get done with my, my PR work, I would, I would, you know, just kind of hang out in the scouting… probably bothered the heck out of those guys. But, you know, guys like John Schneider and Reggie McKenzie and Scott McLuhan. I mean, they were around and, you know, I kind of let that… let it be known that that’s, that’s the track I wanted to get on. And thank God, you know, a few years later, John Schneider got, got on with Marty Schottenheimer with the Washington Redskins, and he hired me to be an area scout.

So that’s kind of the… that’s kind of how it happened. But again, just along the way, you meet the right people and making connections and working really hard. That’s how it happened.

Now, scouting is a grind. I mean, it’s not just something where you can just watch games remotely. Like you’re traveling on the road, grinding out the, you know, 10-plus week college season from game to game.

Yeah, and that’s, that’s really the reason I’m at the Senior Bowl right now, Jim. You know, it’s… it is. It’s a real grind. You know, you go out on the road to start training camp. The end of July, you know, July 25th, 26th, and you’re on the road until, you know, after Thanksgiving, December 1.

And so, we were living in… my family was living in Mobile, Alabama, and the job came open and it was an opportunity for me to, one, you know, still do what I love to do, which is evaluate players and be around the game of football but then also really kind of broaden, you know, broaden my skillset and take on some things that I wasn’t asked to do in a pure scouting role. So it made a lot of sense. I was really fortunate to get the position.

I called our GM in Seattle who’s now John Schneider who gave me my original break. And I said, “John, you know, I might not be their guy, but I got to go for this thing.” And he’s like, “Yeah, you definitely got to go for it.” So… and luckily, they… I did get hired.

And looking back on it, I got on my Marriott profile when I took the job, just, just to see the calculation of how many days I was on the road and 18 years… 18 years of scouting, I was on the road over nine years’ worth of nights, and that’s just in Marriott Hotel. So, it is a real grind. It’s a really hard profession. The guys that do it are really dedicated guys that love what they do. And it’s very rewarding, but it’s very tough.

Talking about the rewarding side of scouting and the tough side of scouting, you know, you’re a part of some Super Bowl championship organizations as a scout—the Packers, the Patriots, the Seahawks, four different Super Bowl championships during your 18 years. I’m sure you have stories of… on the rewarding side. And I’m sure you have stories on the tough side. Because, how do you really predict the future? You can only do what you can do right from learning and developing an eye as a scout.

But let people in a little bit on what it’s like to be a scout and maybe tell a story of some of the players we might know well now that you were able to see early on and detect ability potential that was realized.

Yeah, you know, so you’re, we talked about being on the road a lot, you know, the year kind of breaks up in different segments. That fall segment when you’re out of the schools, you’re out for typically, you know, 10 to 12 days at a time and then home for two or three, and then out for 10 to 12 and home for two or three. So it’s, you know, from that August through December is quite a grind. And then you get into the, you know, your home for the holidays and then you’re out in January, in February for all-star games and combine and then, you know, the on-school workouts are March. And then you’re back to team headquarters in April for draft meetings. So really, the only time you do get down is May and June and July.

And when you’re home, you’re doing work at home. But that’s a great time of the year for scouts is to be off the road and reconnecting with family. So, yeah, those are the tough times. And again, you know, you have… you have aspirations in life.

You know, everyone has got goals, and they see themselves somewhere in life. But, you know, for me, it was always, you know, I’m looking at an NFL scouting job through the eyes of a 12-year-old and an 18-year-old or 22-year-old, you never think of like, what that job is going to look like when you’re 42 with a wife and two kids.

So… and it changes drastically, and I try to tell a lot of young guys that want to get into scouting like, “Hey, guys, this is… this is the reality of it, you know, you better find the right woman and the right partner and, you know, it’s going to take a toll on your family. It’s difficult on your kids. You’re going to miss a lot of things.” So those are really the hardships and just what it, you know, what it does, you know, the difficulties and pressures that puts on your family, all the things you miss with your kids growing up. So, again, I feel really fortunate right now that I can be in a position where I get to do what I love to do and, you know, but… but, you know, still be getting home every night which is… which is a blessing.

But to your story about… to your question about, you know, players we saw, I mean, there’s just, you know, the cool thing is, Jim, it’s not… it’s not so much the players that your team drafts or it’s just… it’s just the whole scouting process.

It’s so great, like, you know, look back on, you know, now guys when I started scouting are getting in the Hall of Fame now, you know, and to be able to look back and remember a practice you’re at when, you know, when Troy Polamalu, you know, when he was coming out of USC, his senior year at USC, you know, he had… Troy had the long hair and he’s had the shampoo commercials over the years.

And the day I went out to practice, they were selling Troy Polamalu wigs at the USC bookstore that year. And all the guys on the team came out to practice with the Polamalu wig just hanging out the back of their helmets. So it’s just like it’s, it’s just… you always remember things of the great players.

And that’s why you do as, I mean, the fun part of the job is seeing greatness, you know. And part of it as a team is chasing the greatness and trying to reach the Super Bowl. But as a scout, you’re out there trying to find the greatness. And so to be in it as long as I was and now be able to look back and remember, like when somebody, you know, the Hall of Fame players were 21-, 22-year-old guys and just, you know, trying to make a name for themselves, it’s really rewarding.

It’s fun to look back on those times.

So now you’re in this era of social media and, you know, obviously, we’ve partnered with you at INFLCR and it’s brought you and I together and I’ve got a chance to really know you well. And you… you act like you don’t know social media well, and you’re not a technical guy, and you always say that, but you’re… you do a great job on Twitter.

I mean, I’m enjoying the heck out of following you just after the first week, full week of college football, because you’re breaking down, using your Twitter, what’s going on out there and you’re… it’s almost like as a fan or just as a professional in sports, I can watch this few-hundred-player prospect list for the Senior Bowl shrink week over week into what will be announced as the Senior Bowl class for 2019 for the 2020 game. Is this an effort that you’ve really put a strategy around or like, how are you doing this? Because you’re really doing a lot on Twitter to let people in on what’s going on in college football and how it plays into the game.

No, I appreciate you saying that, Jim. No, it’s been… it has been weird. You know, it’s been different. You know, I, as a middle-aged White guy like I wasn’t on social media before. I didn’t have… I took this job, I didn’t have, you know, anything. So… but it… but it, it kind of come together where it’s, you know, last year was a big year for us, you know, get… we went from, I think our first-round picks the three previous years we’re at 3, 4 and 3 and then to spike last year at 10. And really the only thing we did different besides scouting it differently and having a staff full of former NFL guys was the social media component. And again, I knew what young kids were doing. I’ve got a teenage son and I know that they, you know, live on their phones and their apps and… but I guess I never really knew to what extent.

So, you know, to be completely honest, you know, when we were pumping out those videos of the players, we go to the games every week and we pump out some pregame video just to let the fans kind of see what these guys look like at field level, watch them move around a little bit. I mean, there’s a lot of people that love the draft and love to evaluate players. I mean, that’s kind of a niche thing.

And the draft has become a, you know, big business, 47.5 million people watched the draft this year. And, I mean, you saw what Nashville looked like with the 600,000 people. So there is a market for it.

So for us to bring those fans down to the field pregame, that’s all we were trying to do is connect with the fans and, you know, kind of pull the curtain back a little bit and show them who we were looking at. And, you know, what it turned into was a great recruiting tool. You know, these players connected with it. We were tagging players in the post and, you know, there was, again, huge buy-in from their side. They thought it was cool that we were out there checking them out, and, you know, it paid dividends when we were, you know, sending out invites, you know, in November and December.

So, it has been great. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s a lot of work, as you know, I mean, that’s… that’s your world and it’s a lot of work to, to really create a brand and which we were having to do. We didn’t… we didn’t have a huge social presence before. It’s been a lot of fun, but it’s also been a lot of work. But there’s a… there’s a ton of value in it. So we’re going to, we’re going to continue to do it.

So like this past weekend I noticed you shared big plays on special teams on defense, on offense from different guys who are prospects for the Senior Bowl. I also loved the tweet about how cool it would be to have a Canadian in the Senior Bowl, like just random, random things you’re doing to engage players. You’re tagging them to create awareness for the game. You’re tagging their teams. Their teams are retweeting it, resharing it. And it’s really something like you said that you had done last year, even down to… there were several announcements where coaches, I know one happened with Gus Malzahn, for instance, that our client Auburn Football, where he announced that a player had been invited into the Senior Bowl and they shot a video of it and made it a big deal and they involved you audio-wise in letting the player know through playing your phone call through the speaker system.

Just talk about that even further as well, because it’s very cutting edge. And it’s helping you grow this game into something that I think players are going to want to play in more and more even though it’s already a coveted spot to have.

Yeah, again, I think that someone said it best and I can’t remember who I was… who I was talking to. And they said, “You know, you made the Senior Bowl cool again.” And, you know, there was a time where before the juniors were entering the draft, this would have been a really… I don’t want to say easy game to work out but I mean when there’s no juniors in the draft and all you’re doing is picking the top seniors and there was also a time when there weren’t agents involved and there wasn’t, you know, as much fear of injury as there is now.

So you know, we do we, you know, we have to be… we really have to push the envelope and be creative. I mean, social media allows you to do that.

You know, and I guess I never really thought about it until I got in this… in this role, but like you referenced the thing with the Sean Davis last year, the Auburn linebacker, that was… he’s a… he’s a Mobile guy, grew up here, played at Vigor High School, a local legend kind of… kind of kid. He’s really magnetic personality. And yeah, we partnered with the guys up at Auburn. They did a great job.

And, you know, there’s some coaches around the country that have done awesome stuff like that when they give a walk on a scholarship. You know, P.J. Fleck up at Minnesota comes to mind, he’s been really creative, and you know, pushed the envelope over the years as a young coach. You know, I think P.J. took that job at Western Michigan. Now he’s at Minnesota, but I think he took that job at Western Michigan, he might not even be at 30 years old. And just to age myself, I’ve scouted P.J. when he played at Northern Illinois, but he’s done some really cool things.

So we’re, you know, we’re trying to come up with different ways this year. We’re brainstorming internally like how can we do that again, like how can… because that did, that got a lot traction. They even played that video during Auburn’s Bowl game against Purdue on ESPN. So again, and that got the Senior Bowl name back out, you know, out there even more. So we are, we’re, we have to continue to do that and, you know, so it doesn’t get stale and continue to work at it.

So again, I know a lot of your clients. I can tell some of the… some of the groups you’re signing up, you know, you can tell which coaches are really embracing the social part of it. And you know, I know Georgia Tech is on board full and Miami and those guys are, you know, Manny Diaz and Geoff Collins, I mean, they’re… you can tell what they’re… they’re buying on the social part. It’s going to be cool when I… when you start seeing their recruiting pick up because of it.

There’s no doubt about it. Last year, or I guess I should say this calendar year, the 2019 game, we partnered up with you. We had 136 guys share over 300 pieces of content both at the Senior Bowl all the way through the NFL Combine reaching 600,000 people on Instagram alone. And so there’s this audience that the players now bring to your game that goes beyond the TV deal, beyond a lot of the other traditional mediums that you guys are partnering with. How have you seen that pay dividends, just even down to the example of the athlete from Auburn resharing and exposing his audience to that amazing video of him getting selected for the game?

No, Jim, that’s, that’s a great point. We just got off a call a couple days ago with a big national, big national brand that we’re really trying to bring in as a sponsor. And that was one of their questions was the social reach and, you know, so we internally went back over last year’s roster, and added up Instagram and Twitter, and our Instagram following of our players in last year’s game was like 3.7 million followers. And then Twitter was like 1.5 million. So again, that’s, to me that’s… if you can measure that, measure that reach, I mean, that’s almost more important than, than eyeballs on a… on a practice right now, you know, or around a game.

I mean, more people are engaged in social media than they are with televisions these days. So it was interesting for me, I mean, it was great having our partnership last year because it really kind of got me thinking that way. But to get in these conversations with some big national brands, and for them, that’s one of the first questions was, you know, what was the social reach of your roster last year, I was like, wow, that’s, that really… it hit home. Like that’s really important stuff. So to be able to come with them with those types of numbers was really cool.

So as you look at this season, talk about what you’re excited about with the game, with this class and just the vision for the future for the Senior Bowl.

Yeah, you know, really excited to be able to sell last year’s class really, Jim, is you know, coming in… coming in last year kind of fresh and starting from scratch, basically, I mean, again, the game has been great. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to downplay the history of the game. The history of this game is incredible. I mean, you look at the Pro Bowl rosters, it’s the who’s who, I mean, Phil Savage, my predecessor did a great job.

When you go back, like, Aaron Donald and Von Miller and Richard Sherman and, you know, Russell Wilson, you can basically pick like the best player at every position in the league and they played here. So, I mean, the game has been a great game for a long time. But now to be able to go off this year and really sell our 10 first-round pick is big, not only to sponsors, but to the players and really making a connection with last year’s players, I made a concerted effort to really try to connect with those guys.

And you know, just yesterday, we had eight undrafted players that made rosters. So I made a point to reach out to all of them yesterday, and it’s been so cool getting texts and phone calls back from them and, you know, just checking and see how they’re doing, telling them how proud we are of them.

So I feel like now we’ve got 120 recruiters, you know, guys that have been down here and went through the process and saw how much it helped them. And so, if we get stuck at a school, if we get stuck at Notre Dame, you know, you can get Drue Tranquill on the phone and say, “Drew, can you call so and so at Notre Dame. He’s dragging his feet a little bit on our invite.”

So, you know, it’s nice to know that we can maybe enlist some former players. But again, we’re so much further along in the… in the scouting process. You know, we just put out a watch list of 475 names and we scouted and graded all those players, and there’s hundreds and more that we… that we didn’t put on the list.

You know, we really want to make this a prestigious thing. You don’t want to just put out a watch list with 1,000 players. I mean, those guys that were on the list deserve to be on it. They’re, they’re probably, you know, glass half full draftable players at this point. There’s only, you know, a little under 300 draft spots. All those guys won’t get picked. But right now when you’re grading in the summer, you got to account for those guys getting better. So I’m excited about that we’re further ahead in all areas and it’s a good class. You know, you got Justin Herbert from Oregon the quarterback. You know, Jalen Hurts played great the other night for Oklahoma, and his debut with the Sooners. And you go across the board and there’s certain positions that are even much stronger than last year. The Cornerback class this year is better. The wide receiver senior class is better.

So, yeah, I mean, it’s going to… the season goes fast when you’re sitting in this office. I mean, the weeks go by fast and before you know it, we’re going to be sending invites out here at the beginning of November, but we’re… there’s a lot to be excited about.

Now, you’ve been through the whole process of college football season and scouting and then the NFL Draft. But for the first time you went through that process in this role last year, going into this year and into the 2019 NFL Draft, what was it like for you going through the process of selecting the players, watching them come in that first day, Sunday night, the week before the Senior Bowl game. I was there with you. And they’re all coming in from all over the country. And you put them through this whole week of practice after they got through the selection process and got selected. And then they play in the game. And then they go to the combine and then Nashville.

I mean, it was surreal, 600,000 people as you mentioned, you get to see these guys get their name called. Just talk about going through that type of process for the first time last year and how rewarding that probably felt for you and your staff to see these young men who went through this process with you that you put together, get their name called.

No, there’s no doubt it was really rewarding at a lot of different stages of it. Again, going back to the, our office staff here that puts in so much work and so many different areas and then our scouting staff, they just did an awesome job. So we were altogether for the first time. The scouts from around the country came in. And when the players started showing up, it was so cool just to see them arrive at the check-in desk and, you know, just hug them up and thank them for buying in and coming and being a part of it.

And then watching him through the process and you know watching them go up, being talked about on TV by the, you know, by the draft analyst moving up, and then to see them get picked, I mean, when you work for an NFL team, you’re lucky to have 7 to 10 picks. So you’re sitting there, and an hour’s go by and you’re waiting for your pick. And then you make you your selection, and then you wait hours more and to take another guy whereas this year on draft, really, I mean, our guys were coming off quick and it was… it was so much fun to see where they’re all ending up. And then, you know, take it all the way through this past week to see, you know, some of these guys that had a disappointing draft weekend; some of these guys that went undrafted that, you know, we would not have invited them to the Senior Bowl if we didn’t think they were draftable players.

I mean, we didn’t invite one guy last year that we didn’t think was going to be picked in the, you know, fifth or sixth round at the latest.

So to see them go on draft and have that disappointment on draft weekend, and then to, you know, work it through all the way through training camp and make the team, I mean, that was so awesome to see those guys and interact the last couple days.

So it’s really come full circle. It’s really like a full-year process with these guys to see them all the way through that following training camp. So yeah, it was a ton of fun and a lot different than working for a team. You know, you get, you get a, you get a really close connection with these guys. And it was a lot of fun. I can’t… I can’t wait for this year to get… to really get rolling again.

It’s awesome, man. So as you look at this career you’ve had built and now where you’ve ended up a lot of people listening, coming up in sports, they’re… they’re used to working nights, working weekends, traveling a lot, a lot of the stuff you talk about, I’m sure a lot of people can resonate, but it really is what it takes to build the connections and the relationships that you’ve built that without those, on your talent alone, you might not be in this role, right, a lot of this role is your relationships with the front-office executives in the NFL, with agents that represent players, with college athletics departments, you’ve developed relationships with all these folks. And it’s been an 18-year investment to get those. So just talk to your younger self and some of the folks listening who are up and coming young sports professionals what’s the number one piece of advice you would give them.

Yeah, Jim, that, I like how you put that. It has been a process. It’s been a real, you know, just like any career, I mean, you get stuck in points, right? I’m sure everyone, you know, everyone that’s listening to this has gotten to a point in their career and they just kind of feel stagnant or stuck or frustrated and, you know, I had all those, you know, a lot of… a lot of different times in my career.

But you nailed it with the relationships part because, I guess, that could, you know, it doesn’t matter what, you know, walk of life or what line of work you’re in. It’s all about the relationships. So, I’ve had to lean on all those, you know, in this new job, it’s my relationships with guys have been on the road with where, you know, maybe we don’t have a scout that can get to the Dakotas and I got a call it’s got my, my buddies that get out to the Dakotas and see what’s out there. You know, or if it’s an agent, you know, someone who’s got a really good player who’s, you know, on the fence about coming to the Senior Bowl or not. And it’s, it’s our previous relationship and… is to get them in this game or, you know, even on the, you know, with the business side of this job where, I mean, I’m, I don’t have a lot of background with but, you know, I did work for a short time in New York City for an agency and so I was exposed to a lot of guys in the, you know, the sponsorship world and some, some businesses and I’ve had to draw back on those.

And it’s amazing… it’s amazing how relationships… how far they can take you. So I guess, the, you know, the only piece of advice is you just never know who you’re going to come across that could someday help you. We all need help. And so, it’s just, you know, just treating people fairly and showing them that you care and it’s the… life is all about relationships. So I, I can’t tell you… on a daily basis, I’m falling back on a relationship that, you know, that’s helping me in some areas.

So, again, you have to work at it. You know, as a scout, you really have to work on the relationship side because there’s, there’s 30, 31 other teams if you’re working for a team, and there’s 31 other teams going in to that school, you know, at the same time and those coaches aren’t always going to be as forthcoming with you if you’re just brazing in and out of the school and expecting them to tell you the truth about players and, I mean, that stuff takes a lot of work. You got to go the extra mile. So I mean, I’ve been used to doing that.

And, and thank God I’ve met a lot of great people along the way and it’s helping me to this day.

All right, so shift as we work to close this awesome interview, I really appreciate you making time, but not that it’s a game that needs to be sold because you’ve said so much already that, that talks about the value of this game this week, reasons a player should play, but there, there are these seniors who could be high-profile players and maybe are thinking, they’re kind of on the fence, right? Give me the… Give me the pitch with all your experience on why this is a no brainer to go play in this game.

Yeah, it’s such a platform for these guys. And again, like I said, it goes back that you’re making a statement just by coming to Mobile, that you’re… that you’re a competitive guy, that you’re not afraid of it, that you’re your own guy, that you’re not going to be talked into something else.

You know, this is… this has always been the showcase for the best of the best. Again, I don’t buy that thing that if, you know, you’re going to be a first-round pick or a second-round pick, you shouldn’t come to an all-star game because, again, to me, those draft slots are more valuable than any. So… and it’s all about, like, we just talked about relationships, it’s the same thing when you’re going through the draft process, it’s all about connecting with people. So you never know, if you’re a player, you never know when that connection is going to take place.

And at the Combine, it is such a rigorous daily schedule, you don’t get a lot of one-on-one time with a lot of NFL personnel because you’re always… you’re in testing, you’re in psychological testing, physical testing, medicals. So this is really a relaxed environment. And I tell guys all the time, you never know when you’re sitting across from a scout or a position coach, you know, or a GM or a head coach, whoever might be down here Mobile. In more of a relaxed setting, and you can really be yourself then that’s going to be what makes them, you know, get game conviction on you and make, make them want to draft you.

So again, and it clears up your plate for the Combine. A lot of these guys, they come here. They take a lot of their psych tests here. They get a lot of the interviews out of the way. So they can really go to the combine and just focus on running that 40-yard dash which is what they’re all there to do, you know. So again, there’s a lot… there’s a lot of connections to be made down here. You know, you come down here. You compete your butt off. You make good connections. It makes the rest of the process a lot less stressful on you.

And again, you’re going against the best of the best. I mean, I’ve sat in every draft room I’ve sat into, when you, when you sit down to watch tape, the very first tape anyone ever pulls is a Senior Bowl tape. And you know, if you hold your own and compete down here, you’re not going to hurt yourself. You know, that was always the rule of thumb in scouting was guys can’t hurt themselves by coming through an all-star game. You can only help yourself. So, you know, that was… that would be my pitch to these guys is that that you’d never hurt yourself by coming down here. You can only help yourself.

Awesome stuff, man. My last question really goes beyond your career. And that’s just, what is your definition of why you do everything you do? What’s your purpose? What’s beyond your career, beyond football for you that kind of fuels everything you want to accomplish in your career?

I mean, the easy answer is family for sure. You know, I mean, my wife has sacrificed a ton over the years to allow me to chase my dreams and do what I love to do. I mean, she’s, you know, she had a great career of her own when we met and, you know, she’s, she’s put that aside for me to chase this and she’s, she’s doing an incredible job raising our two children. And I want what’s best for them. I mean, what parent doesn’t want what’s best for their kids. So just to be able to provide and do the best that I can for them.

And then also, you know, just internally, I’m a really competitive person. I always have been one of those people that’s always been a little bit fueled by fear of failure and just wanting to prove, you know, kind of the chip on your shoulder mentality, been told a lot over the years I couldn’t do things and so just kind of been fueled by trying to prove people wrong but, but, you know, we all… we all have to draw, draw our motivation from somewhere, that’s kind of where I get it. But… but the main motivation is, is just family and making them proud and providing for them the best I can.

I love it, man. I really enjoyed getting to know you over the past year, really pumped about our partnership in the 2020 game. And like you talked about earlier, the stuff we can do to help players magnify their voice, build their brand, but also continue to make sure everyone knows about the Reese’s Senior Bowl brand and the impact that’s having on the players and on the NFL. So really exciting stuff lies ahead for you guys and you should be proud of what’s happened so far.

I appreciate it, Jim, you know, it’s been a lot. The past year has been a ton of fun. You’ve been a big part of that. So I appreciate you having me on the podcast.


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